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Being a mom around the world

Being a mom around the world

Do you ever wonder how your life as a mom would be if you were living in another country? There are around 43.5 million mothers worldwide and around 3.9 million women aged between 15 to 50 who gave birth this year. If you’re a part of this global community of moms, it’s worth knowing your rights wherever you are in the world.

What are your rights as a mother?

As moms, we’re not all treated equally around the world. Laws about maternity vary according to the country you live in and, as a result, moms tend to behave a little differently. Here’s how these basic rights can change depending on which side of the Atlantic you happen to reside... 

Maternity leave in the UK

In the UK, mothers can get 52 weeks worth of maternity leave divided into two types. The first 26 weeks are called “Ordinary Maternity Leave” and the other 26 weeks are called “Additional Maternity Leave”. The Statutory Maternity Leave is paid to mothers for up to 39 weeks. 

The rate at which mothers took the permitted leave increased after a change to the Employment Act in 2002. After this change, the proportion of mothers taking 6 months maternity leave grew from 9% in 2002 to nearly 50% in 2005. 

For more information, check the UK government website  or this report from the UK government’s national archive.

US maternity law

The US federal law, called the Family and Medical Leave Act, guarantees that you can get 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave where your job is protected. However, if you plan to take maternity leave, make sure your employer is covered by the FMLA and that you’re eligible for it because the act doesn’t cover everyone. You must have worked for a minimum of a year at a company that employs at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. For more information, take a look at the U.S Department Labor website. The paid maternity leave will depend on the laws at a state level but also on your employer. 

Let’s get inspired by the happiest moms!

We are not saying that grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s worth looking at other countries to see how they do it. In 2015 Savethechildren released its State of the World’s Mother report on the well-being of mothers and children in 179 countries. The top ranking are Norway, Finland and Iceland:

  • In terms of maternity leave, moms from Norway can spend time at home with their family for 46 weeks while receiving their full salary. If they want to get longer leave, they can get an additional 10 weeks for a salary reduced to 80%.
  • In Finland, the cost per birth is one of the lowest thanks to a very low maternal death rate and a very good healthcare system. This healthcare also applies to maternity leave where a Finnish mom can legally enjoy four months of paid maternity leave and get extra time if she splits with a partner. That’s not all, moms receive a starter kit, aptly named the “Maternity Package”, from the government. The box contains clothes, sheets, bathing products and nappies, and helps reduce infant mortality rate. Nice work, Finland!
  • In Iceland, mothers get a non-transferable 90 days of maternity leave for an 80% monthly salary. Like Finland and Norway, they can take an extra 13 weeks but this part is unpaid. Fathers also get three months paternity leave and often take it to help their partner and enjoy time with their children. 

Many countries still have a bit of catching up to do in terms of healthcare and gender leave equality. As a solution, access to technology can reduce the gender gap in companies and enable moms to be less constrained.

While we currently use many tech-enabled methods to strike the family life-work balance, there are a wealth of new digital solutions that better connect mothers during the early stages of motherhood, like breast pumps, mental health apps and even online shops that enable you to transform a home-based hobby into a profitable side project. At Elvie, we aim to make motherhood easier and technology more available for women.